Continuing Impolite Conversations at Foe Con 2023

After all the overwhelming love that we received at FoE Con 2022, IFF in collaboration with NewsLaundry returned with a bigger and better second edition of FoE Con this year.

30 May, 2023
4 min read

After all the overwhelming love that we received at FoE Con 2022, IFF in collaboration with NewsLaundry returned with a bigger and better second edition of FoE Con this year.

Where journalism and law intertwines

To discuss the vital importance of free expression in our modern age, FoE Con 2023 brought together lawyers and journalists in what turned out to be an unforgettable experience. We explored the various challenges facing free expression in the digital age, from government censorship and surveillance; we talked about the portrayal of law in cinema and how to make the Indian legal system more accessible to the public via media. We also talked about how disinformation could be combated by social media companies. Through FoE Con, we had the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions and debates on these critical issues, and to learn from some of the most influential voices in the field. With these learnings, we promise to return next year to allow more and more of our community to participate in our event.

The first panel focused on online censorship, and how journalists could protect themselves and their stories from censorship. The Indian government, through the Ministry of Electronics and IT,  issues more than 6000 blocking orders annually, under Section 69A of the IT Act and the 2021 IT Rules, in addition to the takedown orders issued by Indian Courts in cases filed for defamation, copyright infringement etc. Several of these takedown orders relate to news stories. Recently, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has also started issuing takedown orders under the 2021 IT Rules, the most recent example being the BBC documentary. This is all in addition to a platform's own policies regarding copyright, content moderation etc. To enlighten us on these issues, we had a panel, moderated by co-founder of NewsLaundry, Abhinandan Sekhri, consisting of social commentator and YouTuber Akash Banerjee, independent journalist Sakshi Joshi, and lawyer Shahrukh Alam.

The accessibility to the Indian legal system rests on the shoulders of legal reporting. Commenting on how live-tweeting and reporting of the Courts has expanded the common man’s understanding of the Indian legal system, we had a panel moderated by lawyer Apar Gupta and consisting of Managing Editor of LiveLaw, Manu Sebastian, lawyer Gautam Bhatia, and journalist Apoorva Mandhani. They taught us how Improving the accessibility of legal reporting is crucial for ensuring that everyone has equal access to the information they need to understand the legal system and participate in it effectively. By breaking down barriers to legal information and making legal reporting more accessible, we can help create a more transparent and accountable legal system.

For our third session, we had an explosive discussion on Courts and its portrayal in cinema. The ethical implications of the representation of law play an important role in understanding the socio-political impact of law. To discuss this, we had award-winning journalist Atul Chaurasia as the moderator, and Director Shefali Bhushan and Kaushik Moitra, Partner at Bharucha and Partners joining us as the panelists. They deliberated on the way law is shown in films and how the portrayal of the legal system has a profound impact on the public's understanding and perception.

The upcoming 2024 General Elections are a crucial moment for the future of the two largest democracies. Discussion around the role of social media companies in combating disinformation, the importance of media literacy in a democracy and the challenges posed by disinformation in the age of technology are relevant today more than ever. With journalist Manisha Pande moderating the fourth session, we had Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, CEO of Logically, Lyric Jain, and Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi discussing effective solutions to protect the integrity of the electoral system and uphold the values of democracy while also assessing the preparedness of the tech industry in India and the US.

FoE Con 2024

Just as Privacy Supreme is held every year to commemorate the judgment of the Supreme Court declaring the right to privacy as a fundamental right in K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India, FoE Con will be held every year to celebrate the judgment of the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, where the Supreme Court upheld the primacy of the freedom of speech and expression.Next year, we want to come back even bigger. Work done by IFF relates to complex issues of technology policy and law, and we try to break down and unravel these concepts creatively. Such creativity can be seen in the graphics that accompanies every post that we publish, in the videos we release on our Youtube channel, and the comics and other media that we share with our community. This practice is also shared by Newslaundry that uses media critique, reportage, podcasts, documentaries, comics and animation to bring out stories concerning the latest current affairs in innovative and engaging formats.

Lastly, as always, we are grateful to Bharucha and Partners for all the support and encouragement that they have extended to us. We could not have done this without them. We are also grateful for the enthusiasm and participation of our wonderful IFF members and donors who showed up for us! You are IFF and IFF is you! Thank you so much, and we hope to see you again next year for FoE Con 2024!

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